Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!
I am looking forward to our pond freezing hard enough to actually go skating on it soon.Although,I must confess it is a long time since I actually went skating.I was joking with a friend yesterday that I might need to borrow a walker to push on the ice for awhile first to get my confidence back before doing a  fancy pirouette!
We lost most of our Christmas snow but still have a little.It is going to rain for a couple of days though.
I will share my hot white chocolate with you-it is a yummy treat on a winter day.

Whenever,I saw this mug at the thrift shop,I knew it would look pretty in this setting.
The pretty red pillow and blanket also were thrift shop finds. The chair and the old wire basket were roadside finds that I had to rescue.
Grap a pair of cozy hand knit mitts to keep your hands warm and enjoy the fresh air.It will put some pink roses on your cheeks and make you feel better too!

Thank you to all who have stopped in to visit,left sweet comments or sent me lovely emails throughout the past year-you encourage me to keep trying to bring a little pleasure to all of you who take time out of your busy day to visit. I wish you all peace,hope,love and joy in this New Year of 2012!

I am joining Hakan for his New Year's Party at Rose Garden in Malevik today.


Construction And The Environment - Green Building

This is a conclusion to our series of articles on ways in which construction affects the environment. Green building is a concept in construction which aims at creating environment friendly construction. The aim here is to reduce the impact of construction on the environment as well as coming up with remedial measures to resuscitate the already chocking environment. Below are just examples of green construction practices.
· Using renewable energy sources in buildings for example solar and wind energy in the place of electricity and fossil fuels.
· Coming up with designs that require minimum energy supporting systems like maximizing on day lighting in buildings as opposed to electric lighting.
· Reducing the use of timber in construction, especially rare and deciduous types, and in their place using fast growing species like bamboo and softwoods in controlled forests and plantations.
· Reusing timber as well as timber wastes like saw dust to make timber replacements.
· Tapping into rainwater and other precipitation for use in buildings to replace or supplement water from other sources.
· Reducing water wastage by making use of pressure control valves, low flush cisterns and the like.
· Reusing grey water (all used water in the house, other than from closets, bidets and such).
· Using porous materials in parking and general surfaces to allow for percolation of water for replenishing sub surface.
· Incorporating gardening and greening in built up areas, including the introduction of green roofs.
· Reducing earth-moving activities for construction works.
· Avoiding construction in environmentally fragile areas for example water catchment areas.
· Reducing the wastes from buildings that end up in land fills by ensuring sorting at source. A good example is where biodegradable wastes are put in different bins and used as fertilizers.
· Rehabilitating derelict land and mine fields by planting trees and such environmental conservation measures.
All these and many other similar measures will definitely nurture the environment. They will however need a lot of deliberation and forward planning so as to make success. It is also worth noting that green building is usually more expensive upfront but could be affordable in the building life cycle. Furthermore, the extra cost in money will be compensated in a sustainable environment.
Green construction is a collective responsibility and should be sought by all and sundry. Architectural association and building regulatory boards the world over should put all the necessary efforts to have their jurisdictions adopt green construction. Governments should also demonstrate green building in their projects to have their subjects easily accept them. Learning institutions and training institutes should also put enough emphasis on these procedures. Green construction materials and equipment should also be zero rated to reduce costs as well as create a preference.
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Romantic Candlelight

Hello everyone,
   One of the things I enjoy about the long winter nights is the romantic glow of candlelight in our home.A couple of nights ago we enjoyed a cozy candlelight dinner with the wood fireplace going and the Christmas tree nearby.It is one of the things I look forward to the most when the garden is put to bed for winter and the colder temperatures force me indoors.

The bannister on the stairway gives a warm glow in the hallway as well.

I love old drippy candles.

The candle chandelier adds charm.
Candles glowing in the hall.

A few Christmas touches in our home.
Hope you are enjoying a warm cozy night by the glow of candlelight!

Last night we hosted a potluck dinner for 27 people and I took some pictures of the tables beforehand to share with you soon. We will be eating leftovers for days!

I am joining French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday and My Romantic Home for Show And Tell.

Thank you for visiting,

BREEAM and the Riba Plan of Work

The BREEAM assessment methodology is a popular way of expressing the sustainability performance of new buildings in Europe and the Middle East and particularly in the United Kingdom. The Riba Plan of Work is a system of building project planning that is widely used by architects in the United Kingdom. This article discusses how managing BREEAM projects can successfully be aligned to the Riba Plan of Work.
BREEAM rates building projects in five categories: pass, good, very good, excellent and outstanding. The rating is based on an assessment of many different issues that relate to sustainable construction. Although there are some mandatory measures that need to be implemented, it is not necessary to score in each of the issues considered to achieve one of the ratings. It is therefore a client and design team decision which sustainability measures will be selected to achieve the required rating. The selection criteria are usually made up of a combination of cost effectiveness, ease of implementation and client preferences.
Many of the issues that are considered within the BREEAM methodology are specific to development site and not associated with the built form itself. The final suite of sustainability measures that will be implemented is therefore often different for each project, particularly when aiming to achieve the more ambitious ratings such as excellent and outstanding. To ensure cost-effective implementation it is important to start considering sustainability issues early on in the project cycle.
The Riba Plan of Work divides the development of construction projects in eleven distinct stages, labeled Riba stage A to Riba stage L. The plan of work provides guidance and procedures of the activities that should take place during each of the stages. In addition it identifies which of the parties involved in the project should be responsible for completing these activities.
The early stages (A and B) are about preparation. During these stages the client's requirements are identified and constraints and opportunities examined. This leads to the development of a design brief (Riba B).
The stages C, D and E cover the design of the development from concept (Riba C) to detailed design (Riba E). The Riba stages F, G and H are about preparing contract documents and going to tender with selected contractors. The construction activities and responsible parties are described in Riba stages J and K. Finally Riba stage L details the activities and responsible parties required to support the new occupants during the initial phase of occupation.
When I work with my clients I guide them through the BREEAM assessment in a process that consists of five stages:
1. BREEAM Appraisal
2. BREEAM Strategy
3. BREEAM Pre-assessment
4. Design Stage Assessment
5. Post Construction Review
The aim of carrying out an appraisal in an early stage of the project is to provide an overview of the sustainability constraints and opportunities of the project and to identify the potential actions that are required to achieve the various BREEAM performance categories. The appraisal will help in setting the BREEAM performance standard and provides a road-map for the remainder of the project. These are essential ingredients of the strategy. For instance, certain BREEAM credits are only available when further surveys or assessments are carried out during the design stage of the project. The appraisal will identify those that are relevant to the project, allowing the project manager to ensure that these are budgeted for and that sufficient time is allocated within the programme.
The appraisal and defining the strategy should take place early on in the project cycle, ideally no later than during the Riba B stage. BREEAM recognises the importance this and awards up to two credits when this is done with the support of a BREEAM Accredited Professional.
The pre-assessment follows on from the appraisal and should reflect the sustainability measures that the project team has committed to implement. This document should be completed before the end of Riba D and should be submitted to the local planning authority with a full planning application. The pre-assessment report should also be included in any tender information that is made available to construction contractors bidding for the construction of the building.
The design stage assessment should be completed before construction starts at the Riba J stage. The design stage assignment differs from the pre-assessment in that for each of the sustainability measures that will be implemented full evidence is required to back-up the claims. This stage should be completed formally so that an interim certificate can be awarded.
Finally the post construction review serves to confirm the interim BREEAM rating at the design stage assessment. The post construction review is a formal step and leads to the award of the final BREEAM certificate. It should be carried out when construction is completed and occupation of the building starts (Riba K or L).

Tea Party Review

Hello everyone,
     Last year I did a tea party review so I thought I would do one of the tea parties that I had this past year.
Well,another year is almost over and I hope to enjoy many new tea parties with you in the coming year!
If you would like to see last year's Tea Party Review click here.

Today I am joining Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Thank you for stopping in today.


Home for Christmas

Hello everyone,
     Hope you are still enjoying some holiday cheer and maybe a little rest from the hustle and bustle as well.I just have a few collages etc. to share with you today.The photo above is how we set up our  tables for dinner when our children and their families are all home for a family meal..There are 23 of us so it involves some rearranging of tables,chairs etc. It is more practical then fancy but it works good for us.
This is me playing with my new 50mm lens and anything that was in front of me was photographed- too bad you weren't here!
I love these pics of the little ones happily opening their Christmas gift from Grandma and Grandpa!
Some quiet moments
More of our Christmas tables-there is a small children's table in the muddle for a few wee ones.
Beautiful roses- a gift from my sister-in law.
My paperwhites bloomed just in time for Christmas.
A short depth of field pic of my teacups.

Still playing with my new lense!

I will be back soon with  a Year of Tea Parties post.

Take care,

Why We Need Solar Systems As Standard Home Options

Solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems are gaining in popularity, especially in the South West United States where, according to SolarBuzz.Com, growth rates for new solar system installations by 2014 will increase by as much as 10 times that of the market size in 2009. One would think that with such phenomenal growth rates, more home manufacturers, factor built builders especially, would add solar pv and solar thermal systems as standard options.
So why don't more manufacturers do this since the solar market seems to be taking off? The answer lies primarily in the development cost of associated with providing new options of any kind to consumers. Developing new home options that require complex engineering plans and designs is not cheap. A home builder that want to add energy efficiency options in to the mix of what they offer consumers can look at having to bankroll a development project for years before they may see any real return on investment. This, primarily, is the reason most installations of solar systems happen on existing homes and not be developers themselves.
Some home builders do offer these systems as options but, quite frankly, these companies are few and far between. We project that as the industry continues to increase in terms of demand, more home builders in the South West will look to add these options in to their regular product offerings to not only meet consumer demand, but also as a new profit center. Why should these systems be offered only after market?
California comprises almost 50% of all new solar system installations annually. Even though the housing market may be in a downward spiral, new home sales, especially in the manufactured home market, are doing well due mostly to the reduced overall cost as compared to site built homes. While consumers may turn to the factory built variety of homes to save their hard earned dollars, they still want high end options available to them.
Cost savings is one of the driving forces that makes consumers want to invest in solar systems. I predict that home builders that offer homes in the South West United States will begin offering more options to meet people's needs in the solar arena, not because its good to do so necessarily, but more so because of demand and the ability to create a new profit center within existing businesses. Energy efficient home options that include PV and solar thermal systems should be standard options in the near future.

A White Christmas

Hello everyone,
      I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. I was so happy to have some snow arrive a couple of days before Christmas as it had been so mild and I was resigning myself to a green one.It was Christmas card perfect!
Come along and I will show you some of the beautiful sights!

Beaconsfield(a museum) is open to the public for tours and it is decorated in the Victorian style.

and now back home.

It was a beautiful gift from above just in time for Christmas!

We had a lovely Christmas with all of our children and grandchildren gathered around our table for our traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings-a blessing indeed! Last night we had five of our little grandchildren(6 years and under) for a sleepover with a night coming soon for the 3 older ones.Little Lila was not feeling well so she didn't stay the night this time.It is so much fun to see them having such a good time together.
  On a different note I got a new lens for my camera so now I am off to practice on this beautiful bright winter day!
  Thank you to all who left such lovely kind wishes for me this Christmas season. I had hoped to be able to get back to you all personally but time slips by too fast.

Thank you for visiting me today.


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